There she was again in the shop. Her fur collar was up around her ears, and her hair was full of static. Wisps and small strands of hair were making trembling electrical movements. I thought she might spark and set herself on fire.
I was facinated by this mysterious movement of her hair, and thought of coral reefs, and blue lagoons, and sea anemones wafted by an underwater current. Outside the snow was deep and it was below zero, but I was naked on a tropical island, and the sun was hot. Too hot, and my mouth was dry, and in the cold Finnish winter I felt that prickly heat in my armpits, and a trickle of sweat down my side.
It didn't register with me when she said "I'll take this red Amyrylis"
I said the first thing that came into my head. "Take it. It's yours for free"
Her lips twitched a couple on millimetres, and her nostrils flared ever so slightly. "Really?"
"Yes completely free... no strings attached.... arrrrgh... what I mean is... it's yours for free... special policy... Christmas policy... goodwill to all men.... eeehh and women... and all that... thousanth customer of the Christmas season... goodwill gesture... and we throw in a free christmas tree as well... would that be OK?"
She pouted "Well it is Boxing day and Christmas is over, and I already have a tree. You're very kind, but the Amyrylis will do just fine" she purred. Her words were like honey dripping off a wooden spoon.
I felt crushed. It was was though someone had taken a six inch stiletto heeled shoe and whacked me on the forehead with it. I wraped up the Amyrylis for her in silence, and tied it up with our best Christmas ribbon, and presented it to her, and at the same time for no reason at all, blurted out "The excellence of a gift is in its appropriateness and not in its value." As soon as I said it I wished I had had a shotgun handy to blow off my foot with both barrels.
She raised one eyebrow, took the package and moved towards the door, and with a wink said, "Bye."
I could have sworn she kissed the air as she left.